After a record number of entries, six chefs from around New Zealand have been named Ora King Awards semi-finalists for 2019.

Drawing inspiration from this year’s theme of ‘Sustain’, entrants were challenged to communicate their own sustainability story and creativity through an Ora King dish.

The semi-finalists for the prestigious title of Best Ora King Dish New Zealand are:

Antony Page – 50 Bistro at The George Hotel, Christchurch
Chetan Pangam – One80 Restaurant, Wellington
Makoto Tokuyama – Cocoro, Auckland
Mark Diu – Avon Valley Lodge, Blenheim
Mark McAllister – Private Chef, Auckland
Phil Clark – Phil’s Kitchen, Auckland.

New Zealand King Salmon’s Marketing Manager Foodservice, Anne-Marie Friis, says the calibre and high number of entries demonstrates how much chefs connected with this year’s theme.

“Sustainability is crucial to everything we do at Ora King and indeed is central to the whole food industry. This year’s theme inspired chefs to showcase their personal experience with the topic and we saw a real range of dishes coming through.

“We had chefs using overlooked ingredients that often go to waste and there was a strong theme around collaborating with other local producers and the inclusion of native ingredients. We were delighted to see several entrants used Ora King from nose to tail in their dishes and in very interesting and creative ways.

“There were also entries that acknowledged the mental sustainability of restaurant teams, while other chefs referenced how childhood memories inspired them to look after the environment for future generations. There was such a variety, which made judging particularly challenging,” says Ms Friis.

Leading New Zealand chef Geoff Scott, alongside leading food writer and restaurant critic Lauraine Jacobs, will now visit each New Zealand semi-finalist. During these sessions the chefs will be able to personally share the inspiration behind each dish and respond to questions from the judges.

Lauraine Jacobs says: “Each year the standard of entries goes up and this year is no different. Sustainability is far more than just a buzzword in the hospitality industry. It is clear these semi-finalists are chefs who have combined a nuanced understanding of sustainability and have successfully combined that with innovation, imagination and technique.”

After the judging sessions, three finalists will be announced on September 16, after which they will be flown to the Nelson-Marlborough region for a four-day, all-expenses paid celebration, from 13 to 17 October. The Ora King Awards ceremony will take place on October 15.

In addition to the New Zealand competition, chefs from North America, Australia and Japan will compete for the Best Ora King Dish in their respective countries.

The best entries from throughout the competition will be featured in a book of sustainable food stories, published later this year.

Terms and conditions for entry to the Ora King Awards are available on the Ora King website – orakingsalmon.co.nz

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